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The basics
Malaysia: Once you arrive

Stay up all night to study – is it a good idea?

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SPM and STPM are just around the corner, and time seems to be running faster than usual. So much to study and so little time! Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Many students are beginning to feel the pressure and more choose to study all night to catch up, sacrificing sleep in order to get good results! However, what happens to your body if you don’t let it sleep? And does it really help to study all night?  Let’s explore.


According to a recent research at Harvard and Berkeley, one of the side effects of pulling an all-nighter is the experience of short term euphoria! When someone loses a night’s sleep, the mesolimbic pathway will be strongly stimulated. The neural circuit that controls pleasure and reward, the mesolimbic pathway is driven by a chemical called dopamine. When the level of dopamine increases, it automatically boosts the person’s motivation and positivity. Now you might think that this doesn’t sound too bad…well, think again. Not only are these feelings brief and fleeting, but the dopamine surge also encourages addiction and impulsive behaviour! Worse, the regions of the brain responsible for planning and evaluating decisions will simply shut down when deprived of sleep. Also, some research indicates that if sleep deprivation continues, the brain’s “neural plasticity” – which means its ability to adapt to new situations will be forced to operate in a different state on a regular basis; in an extreme case, it could lead to permanent brain damage. Geez, none of us want that!


Some of you might argue that you don’t do it all the time and that you will burn the midnight oil only before an important exam...researchers tell us that this does more harm than good! As the consolidation of memories occurs during deep sleep, last minute cramming will simply go to waste. On top of that, all nighters weaken the coupling between the structures responsible for episodic memory. In other words, the circuit might be fried and you will most likely have serious trouble remembering or recalling specific events. Oh no!!


Furthermore, Susan Redline, a professor of sleep medicine in Boston has discovered links between sleep deprivation and the onset of neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety and bipolar depression.  If we continue to force the body to stay awake for a long duration of time, not only does it affect the blood pressure but also the levels of inflammation, resulting a higher risk of heart disease and cancer.


Phew, what a load of consequences for pulling all-nighters! Let’s get healthy and study the smart way so we can enjoy what life has to offer!


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